Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park
Meet the Asian Tiger—the biggest of the Big Cats, and planet earth’s most powerful predator.
The Rarest of the Biggest Cats
Disney’s Animal Kingdom park is home to one of the rarest tiger species of all—the Sumatran tiger. Come see them in their expansive habitat on the Maharajah Jungle Trek.
Tigers in the Wild
Tigers can be found in tropical rain forests, mangrove swamps and drier forests that provide the dense cover, access to waters and sufficient large prey they need to live. Tigers currently survive only in scattered populations from India to Southeast Asia.
Threats to Asian Tigers
All tiger subspecies are listed as “endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) except for the Sumatran tiger, which is considered “critically endangered”—with only 400 estimated to remain in the wild, on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia. The Asian tiger's total population is estimated at fewer than 2,500 tigers worldwide.
Disney Conservation Efforts
The Walt Disney Company is passionately committed to the protection of Asian tigers and their natural habitats. Find out what Disney is doing for tigers—and how you can help!
“Disney’s Animal Kingdom creates an incredible experience where you’re really engaging with animals and conservation. You walk away feeling a special connection with animals and nature.” – Djuan Rivers, VP Disney’s Animal Kingdom park
Tiger populations have suffered a rapid decline due to habitat loss, reduction in large prey and increased poaching.
Tigers are highly specialized stealth hunters that need the cover of dense forest habitats to survive. But deforestation—from fast-expanding oil palm and Acacia plantations and human population growth—is destroying traditional tiger habitats and reducing the number of prey species that tigers need to survive. In Sumatra, tiger habitats are disappearing at a rate of 3% to over 5% per year.
Humans vs. Tigers
Shrinking habitats are forcing tigers and humans to live closer together than ever before. As a result, tigers sometimes prey on domestic goats or cows, and in turn are killed by the owners of that livestock. But a more insidious threat is from poachers, including well-funded crime syndicates that kill tigers for their beautiful fur and for body parts that are used in traditional Far East medicines—and are still in high demand today. Between 1998 and 2002 at least 51 Sumatran tigers were killed each year—approximately 10% of the population—with 76% of kills for illegal trade and 15% from human-tiger conflict.
Disney Is Helping Tigers in the Wild
Sumatran tigers are the smallest subspecies of all tigers in the world and found only on the island of Sumatra. Sadly, they are also on the brink of extinction as a result of poaching, not just of the tigers themselves but of their prey as well. Other factors adversely affecting their populations are high rates of habitat loss, illegal wildlife trade and retaliatory killing due to human-tiger conflicts. A consortium of Sumatran-based organizations aims to increase the population of the critically endangered Sumatran tiger by working to reduce poaching and illegal trade, encourage community engagement and improve the management of protected areas. As part of Disney’s work to protect and reverse the decline of Sumatran tigers, the Disney Conservation Fund is supporting the Wildlife Conservation Society.
Tigers and Comics
Disney is also sharing the story of Sumatran tigers with millions of Indonesians in our Donal Bebek (Donald Duck) comics. Celebrating its 40th year of publication, this comic enjoys a widespread distribution within Indonesia, and we are excited to introduce Treasure the Sumatran tiger into the story to teach people about the importance of helping to protect tigers and their forest homes and what they can do to help protect tigers for the future.
Our expansive tiger habitats are designed to cater to the unique needs of the species based on their natural history.
Top Cat Habitat
Our tiger habitats include hills, pools, shade trees, rocks and fallen logs that providing natural opportunities for the animals to communicate, rest, hide and explore—just as they do in the wild. Pools and fountains provide a great place to cool off, while fallen trees are natural scratching posts. The tigers aren’t actually sharpening their claws on those logs—their claws are already plenty sharp—they're marking their territory, just like your cat does on your couch!
Veterinary Care and Animal Training
Through positive training, our tigers learn to participate in their own dental, medical and health plans. Following a hand signal or verbal cue from an animal care expert, tigers present their tails and paws for a daily check-up, or position themselves for an ultrasound or blood draw—even an injection! Tigers are enthusiastic learners, which makes the vets’ work easier and safer. All training is accomplished through protective barriers to ensure the safety of both animals and people.
How do you keep a 400-pound adult tiger active and engaged with her environment? Through animal enrichment—a cornerstone principle at Disney’s Animal Kingdom park. Hiding meat in sacks throughout a tiger’s habitat encourages the tiger to explore, forage for food and make choices just as she would in the wild. Perfume sprayed on a plastic ball encourages tigers to display natural behaviors such as playing, stalking, running and scent-marking—entertaining the tigers as well as their jungle-trekking Guests.
Sleek and powerful, the Asian tiger is the ultimate apex predator, at the very tip-top of the food chain. But what makes tigers so special?
Predator in Chief
Tigers are master hunters, physically adapted to bringing down prey that is larger, faster or stronger than themselves. How do they do it? Through stealth, camouflage—and specialized adaptations.
Earning Their Stripes
The tiger’s distinctive orange and black stripes help them hunt! The vertical lines break up their outline in the forest so they can sneak up on prey unnoticed. Their stripes are always unique—no 2 patterns are alike—and their skin underneath the fur, too.
Born to Hunt
Tigers use their whiskers as “feelers,” helping them navigate their way through dark, heavily wooded areas. They hunt alone at dusk and dawn, with night vision 6 times more powerful than ours. Their ears turn independently of each other, up to 180 degrees, allowing them to sound-locate their prey. Padded paws ensure a silent approach when stalking, and their super-sharp curved claws are perfect for hooking and holding prey. Tigers can reach a length of 11 feet (3.3 m) and weigh over 400 lbs (181 kg), and run as fast as 35 mph (56 kph)—and then leap up to 20 feet (6 m)!
Like most cats, tigers are solitary, forging their own path in the forest and coming together only to mate—hello, good-bye!—then continuing their solo careers. Female tigers raise their cubs alone and hunt by themselves. They usually hunt larger hoofed mammals—herbivores like deer and wild pigs. On occasion, tigers target larger prey such as Indian rhinos, Asian water buffalo or even gaur—the biggest cattle in the world.
Tigers are territorial, with a home range between 10 and 30 square miles (16-48 km2). They mark their territory with their own unique smells, using scent-glands in their cheeks and paws in addition to urine and feces to warn intruders to stay away. Scratch marks on trees are another way cats mark their territory—the higher the mark, the bigger the cat!
Unlike most cats, tigers love the water! They are excellent swimmers, and often cool off in rivers and lakes to beat the heat. When prey becomes scarce, tigers have even been known to catch fish for food!
What can you do to protect Asian tigers and their habitats? More than you think!
Protect Nature by Using Your Buying Power
Make sure any products you buy are sustainable and "wildlife friendly," especially if they contain palm oil. You can also help tigers by purchasing wood products made of sustainable wood or bamboo, which helps protect their forest habitats. When buying travel souvenirs, make sure they are eco-friendly and wildlife-friendly.
Learn About Tigers
Visit a local zoo to learn more about tigers, and spread the word about threats to these amazing creatures by doing a school project on them or by joining a local conservation organization.
“I have learned from the animal world, and what everyone will learn who studies it, is a renewed sense of kinship with the Earth and all its inhabitants.” – Walt Disney